Last November, students at Cornell University staged a “cry-in” after the presidential election didn’t go their way. The University of Michigan School of Law cancelled tests and established a “safe room” where students could sip hot cocoa, play with Legos and watch videos of puppies playing in a field. These are adults; mind you, not elementary school kids. What’s going on here?
These are manifestations of the “Participation Trophy” generation. You know what I’m talking about: if your child’s team didn’t place first, second or third your child received a trophy for “participating.” Nobody is left out; nobody feels bad. In the PC culture, everyone’s a winner.
As a parent, seeing my children hurting was awful. But I had to allow them to experience pain so they learned resilience. If I don’t, I am risking their ability to handle life’s challenges and disappointments. Life throws some ugly stuff our way sometimes. These kids sitting in their cry-circles drinking cocoa aren’t going to be ready for it when life gets messy. They will fold rather than find the inner strength necessary to face challenges head-on.
When we protect children from the pain of losing, we are robbing them of the opportunity to grow from it. Treating every child like a winner is the genesis of false expectations about life, weak character, and it teaches them that lackluster effort will be rewarded anyway, so why try our best?
Let’s encourage our children to always do their best; “leave it all on the field” as my coaches would say. Then, win or lose, you can honorably look yourself in the mirror.